South Korea Set to Transform Kangwon Land into $1.85B Global Gaming and Entertainment Hub

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The South Korean government has recently unveiled its grand plans to massively expand Kangwon Land, the sole legal gambling hub for local residents, into a sprawling, world-class entertainment and gaming destination. The planned upgrade is projected to cost 250 trillion Korean won (equivalent to approximately US$1.85 billion), which will finance the tripling of the existing casino floor area.

Presently occupying a modest floor plan of 167,000 square feet, Kangwon Land has earned an esteemed standing as the only casino in the country where South Koreans can legally gamble—a privilege otherwise exclusive to foreign individuals in the country’s other casinos. As part of the proposed expansion, the casino will swell to a colossal 533,000 square feet, enhancing its drawing power for both local and international thrill-seekers.

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The vision for Kangwon Land, controlled by the Korean government’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy and the Kangwon Province’s Development Corporation, extends beyond the gaming realm. Nestled in the remote Kangwon Province known for its coal mining activities, the resort will also witness the addition of cultural complexes, a brand-new hotel, as well as a wellness center set amid the serene forest surroundings. Purposed to capture the essence of the locale’s historical coal mining roots, the expansion will also comprise attractions built around this unique industrial theme.

The ambitious venture further aims to lure international conventions through the newly-added convention space, contributing to the diversification of the resort. Furthermore, a temporary expanded casino will also be established during the construction phase, strategically ensuring more gamblers can be accommodated and the momentum of business is not thwarted.

The government’s sizeable investment in Kangwon Land occurs alongside the announcement of MGM Resorts International’s plans to construct Japan’s premier casino resort in Osaka—at an impressive cost of over $8 billion—slated to open by 2029 or 2030. This impending development establishes Osaka as a formidable rival to South Korea’s gaming industry due to its accessibility from Seoul and other significant Korean cities.

This prompts the South Korean government, which profited about $260 million in net proceeds from the casino last year, to bolster Kangwon Land’s appeal and sustain its prominent status in the face of impending foreign competition.

Despite the considerable current offerings, with 100 table games and 1,000 slot machines and a hotel boasting 700 guestrooms, finding an available seat on weekends often presents a challenge, signifying the strong demand for expansion. This demand has intensified further recently with decreased activity of junket groups in Macau catering to high-end Chinese clientele, shifting the attention of eager gamblers to thriving markets like South Korea.

Thus, this grand project, aptly named the “K-HIT” project representing Korea High Integrated Tourism, stands testament to South Korea’s commitment to retain Kangwon Land as a definitive gambling destination amidst rising domestic and international competition. Expectedly, the hefty $1.85 billion price tag on the project will likely take many years to realize, but the vision it beholds promises an unparalleled attraction for avid gamers and tourists alike once completed.